Netanyahu throws down the gauntlet

In an obvious gesture of defiance, the Netanyahu government in Israel intends to approve the construction of hundreds of additional housing units in West Bank settlements. All such settlements, it is worth noting, are considered by most of the world — including some past U.S. administrations — to be illegal under international law. In response, ...

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Stephen M. Walt
By , a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.
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581299_090904_walt2b2.jpg

In an obvious gesture of defiance, the Netanyahu government in Israel intends to approve the construction of hundreds of additional housing units in West Bank settlements. All such settlements, it is worth noting, are considered by most of the world -- including some past U.S. administrations -- to be illegal under international law.

In response, the Obama administration said, "We regret the reports of Israel's plans to approve additional settlement construction," adding that additional settlements are "inconsistent with Israel's commitments under the road map."

In an obvious gesture of defiance, the Netanyahu government in Israel intends to approve the construction of hundreds of additional housing units in West Bank settlements. All such settlements, it is worth noting, are considered by most of the world — including some past U.S. administrations — to be illegal under international law.

In response, the Obama administration said, “We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction,” adding that additional settlements are “inconsistent with Israel’s commitments under the road map.”

Ouch. That must really sting. The government of the world’s most powerful country “regrets” what you are doing. Oh dear. I’ll bet there’s fear and trembling in PM Netanyahu’s office tonight.

The administration’s official statement also declared “The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is and will remain unshakeable,” and said that it still believed a two-state solution was the best way to guarantee that objective.

But here’s my question: If Netanyahu and Co. can count on this “unshakeable commitment” no matter what they do, why should anyone expect their behavior to change?

Henning Schacht-Pool/Getty Images

Stephen M. Walt is a columnist at Foreign Policy and the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

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